Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Live, in Concert

The-goblet-of-fire,live-symphony
Harry Potter Live- a movie and a symphony

I love attending movie showings at venues that set a live orchestra to movie soundtracks. I’ve attended a few of the Harry Potter ones, most recently Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (one of the best Harry Potter films. IMO). On August 5th of 2018, I got to enjoy the San Diego Symphony Orchestra play under the bright lights of downtown’s skyscrapers on one side, and the beautiful harbor on the other. It was, well…a magical experience.

Conducted by John Jenesky, and performed at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, it was beyond cool to see up close how a large symphony was coaxed into creating a wall of music.

I was fortunate enough to snag one of the tables up close by the orchestra, under the massive outdoor movie screen. Wine, good food, and tasty desserts were available. I can’t say everything was perfect: the lines at the PortaPotty “village” were long and stinky, and the parking was awful — you could pay absurd fees to park nearby, or  find a side street out of the area and schedule a long walk in. Also, the traffic once the event ended was just snarly, taking  almost an hour to exit the expensive parking garage; no joke. For all things downtown, I’ve learned it’s better to UBER in and out.

However, it’s very worthwhile to catch these kind of events if you can. Of course the movie was enjoyable alone, and got me more psyched for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And I went with my Harry Potter Meetup friends, dressed in my best Hogwarts robes (Gryffindor House, natch). We brought our wands and had ourselves a very merry evening.

There’s something special about having a live musical performance set to great movies with a note-perfect soundtrack. The music sounded exactly like the original track by Patrick Doyle and the great John Williams. (Which, really, one would expect in a big city’s orchestral group. We’re not talking about a high school marching band, after all.)

The Harry Potter series plays one movie a year for the season’s program of Bayside Summer Nights. In previous years, I got to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Askaban. I missed The Sorcerer’s Stone, but maybe it will come around again (in…um, six years — or longer if they include the Fantastic Beasts films).

I also recently watched Star Wars: A New Hope in this setting — also an outstanding experience. I’d happily shell out money for these geeky events whenever I find them, whether it’s for Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, the Star Wars oeuvre, Indiana Jones’ lineup, ET, Titanic…anything iconic, with a  strong, distinctive soundtrack. (Notice the prevalence of John Williams’ films. The man is a master.)

If you get a chance to view a great movie set to a live symphony, make it happen. Highly recommended.

Related, on RunPee —

The Movie Music of John Williams  — Concert Review

Star Wars A New Hope — Symphony and a Movie

Star Wars A New Hope — Movie Review

Solo: A Star Wars Party in San Diego

Fantastic Beasts 2 Trailer Released at Comic Con

Final Trailer for Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — Movie Review

 

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Concert Review – The Movie Music of John Williams

I’m not a huge fan of live music, but I AM a movie lover. The best, most iconic movies are usually supported by an amazing soundtrack. Think of some of the top films of our time…now imagine them without a stirring score. Imagine the 1977 Star Wars without The Imperial March, or Luke Skywalker’s Theme.  Would it even be Star Wars? A great composition carries the viewer into new worlds, offering rousing emotional cues and magical movie moments.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of our A+ film lists are heavily weighted by one beloved composer: John Williams.

So when I heard San Diego would host a special summer concert of the music of John Williams, I was all over it, and off I went to the Jacobs Music Center in downtown San Diego. Was it great? Well…it should have been. Part of it was wonderful. The program was in two halves, starting with a sampler variety of films. And the second part? It was all Star Wars. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  😉

I think was did surprise me was the first half:  for some reason, the chosen themes weren’t the most well-known in their franchises. Yes, absolutely play the music from Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Superman, and Harry Potter! But how about the songs we best recognize and love? I don’t think The Last Crusade contains the most memorable Indiana score, nor the Lost World from the Jurassic Park series. I find those choices a little mystifying. Why not use the beloved Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter? And I don’t even recognize the movie title “BFG”…surely something from ET might have been a better choice from the child-oriented end of John Williams’ oeuvre.

At least the concert opened with a bang, using the Superman March from the original 1978 Superman. And the entire Star Wars second half of the program was as nostalgically transporting as any geek could hope.

Here’s the performance list from my July 18, 2018 concert (as worded from my program):

  • “Superman March” from Superman
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “Harry’s Wondrous World”
  • Suite from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “Bridge to the Past”
  • “A Child’s Tale” suite from The BFG
  • “Scherzo for Motorcycle” from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • “The Adventures of Indiana Jones” I.Swashbuckler (The Adventures of Mutt)
  • “Theme” from The Lost World

Intermission

  • Selection from Star Wars

The program info could have been written better. For example, I’d like to remember which songs from which Star Wars films were used, although I did recognize them all. A list might have been nice. 🙂

Overall, this was a fine experience, but not a great one. The musicians can’t be faulted — everything sounded like it was performed in the movies themselves. Conductor Sameer Patel was lively and probably superb, although I wouldn’t recognize one conductor’s work from another, to be honest. But from the selections chosen, I don’t think I’d pay $30 to see this again.

What I would do again, in a heartbeat, are those outdoor symphony performances of music played TO THE MOVIES. I’ve now seen several of the Harry Potter films performed that way, and most recently, Star Wars: A New Hope (<—–concert/movie review). If I’m lucky, that will become a habit.

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Star Wars A New Hope – Symphony & Movie

The Force is with them.

This week I was treated to an outdoor, live symphony in San Diego (at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, August 18, 2018) playing to a large screen-film showing of Star Wars: A New Hope.  To say it was spellbinding would be an understatement.

I haven’t seen A New Hope (just called Star Wars, back in the day) on the large screen since the original trilogy’s Special Editions came out in 1997. With the San Diego Symphony Bayside Nights offering monstrous screen outdoor movies set to a live orchestral soundtrack, people have started  flocking to these events in droves. It was as packed last night as it was to their Harry Potter versions last year. And the Star Wars audience was surprisingly into the spirit of the story.

Where did you dig UP this old fossil?

While the audience wasn’t dressed in costume like the Harry Potter symphony goers were ( I was one of the attendees in Hogwarts robes), it was clear people were more-than-normally excited. People laughed at almost every line C-3P0 said, applauded when Han Solo first appeared, shouted AWWWW when Porkins died,  cheered as the Death Star blew up, and gave a standing ovation after the rousing credit themes finished. Besides all the clapping, hooting, cheering, and laughing around me, one nearby attendee amused audiences during the Intermission by roaring like Chewbacca. He was quite good. I can’t even come close.  🙂

Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. (From a certain point of view.)

It’s hard to describe how amazing it is to watch a beloved movie set to live music. When I could tear my eyes from the screen, I was impressed to see how many string instruments Williams’ score used. He was also heavy on the brass, and light on percussion…although when drums or other percussive instruments were used, they were to magical effect. Nothing sweeps you right along like the Star Wars theme.

After the orchestra members took a bow, it was a matter of inching through the cattle-like foot gates, and waiting an hour to exit the car from the Downtown Hilton parking garage, during which my enthusiasm waned a bit (I recommend Uber for things like this). But John Williams’ iconic score still resounded in my brain. I considered what other movies could inspire enough audiences take the jump from ignoring a “boring” orchestral event, to packing the outdoor grandstand seats and champagne lawn tables for fine arts versions of pop culture immersion.

The Harry Potter movies are a clear success in this format, with eight movies, plus the new Fantastic Beasts versions to choose from. And I suspect they can give it a go for the lineup of other Star Wars films. Other movie franchises with powerfully memorable scores include Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Superman, ET, and possibly Close Encounters. If I’m leaning heavily on John Williams films, that should be no kind of symphonic surprise. But there are certainly other composers lending themselves to this kind of treatment. Think about The Lord of the Rings saga or Titanic. If there are other movie franchises whose tune you can easily identify offhand, that’s a place to start. And if said movie comes with a fanatical following, well, there you go.

I’m excited for the next time I can hit the symphony for a fabulous science fiction or fantasy film super-experience. It will have to be an annual event!

As a re-watch, of course I give Star Wars an A+, film-wise. Seeing it on the large screen with a superb live orchestra takes the film to new heights. If there was a super-grade above A+ for the live musical option, I’d give it.

Great seats. The Force was clearly with me that night!

 

About the Peetimes:

I didn’t even need to use my Peetimes; the event included an intermission. However, since everyone else in the audience used this intermission as well, clogging up the toilet lines, I should have checked the app anyway. We do have Peetimes for A New Hope listed in the RunPee app, even though RunPee didn’t remotely exist yet, as a sort of retro-cool flashback feature. For fun, you can scroll through the movies on the RunPee app, and peek at what we did.

 

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)

Movie Rewatch: Jurassic Park – The Lost World

While enjoying a lovely pint of hand crafted mead at the San Diego Bronto Brew Meadery, I got to view a free social rewatch of the entire Jurassic oeuvre. With Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom opening in the US this week, that’s five fun movies. Or, well, some fun movies and one that sucked (Hi, JP III).

While it’s got it’s detractors, The Lost World is a decent film, the second best in the series. It has a real plot that’s explored organically, with good characterizations, and some intensely riveting dino action.   Its main problem is that it can never be as tightly gripping or simply magical as the original. And it still has the goofy kid sequences that plague the franchise. But let’s talk about what we liked.

How about that RV scene? You know the one. Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, playing Jeff Goldblum), not quite as dead as supposed, talks about the running and the screaming to follow. He’s in that turbo-charged Tech RV ( I WANT ONE) that a T-Rex couple industriously push off the side of a cliff. The humans did, as humans do, something incredibly stupid with the baby T-Rex, and now the parents need to rid their territory of the pesky people, in the most dramatic way possible.

The scene where Sarah lands on the RV window above the crashing coast is the singular iconic moment  in The Lost World. Never mind that someone with her education makes every  mistake from the Megafauna 101 class…at that moment, we’re with her,  holding our collective breaths, as the glass cracks spider outward. Brrr. Good scene. Silly stuff aside (these guys can’t hold that wet, muddy rope in their bare hands, much less

climb it, but whatever), it’s a stirring sequence. When poor Toby from the West Wing dies horribly we wince, and then cheer when the previously antagonist hunters lends their literal hands to save our guys. It’s all the people against the dinosaurs from this point on. 

There are chases, there are deaths. The chicken-sized Compys strike back against an arrogant human, and our unfortunate paleontologist dies a nasty death, somewhere between a snake bite, a waterfall, and one big set of jaws.

Things go pretty good, story-wise, introducing the Raptor area (cool shots of humans being hunted in the tall grass)…and then things start getting wacky. The gymnastics scene is obviously nuts, but the worst offense of The Lost World are the scenes on the ship and in San Diego.

One: If the T-Rex is still contained in the cargo bay, how come the bridge crew was eaten? No matter how many times I watch this, I still don’t understand how we’re supposed to believe this happened. There’s a hand gripping the steering wheel and no body…all while the large animal in question is contained. Below decks. Is there an invisible Raptor onboard?

There’s a scene showing how the T-Rex breaks out of containment after the ship crashes, and goes looking for drinking water (a pool) and food (poor doggy). I live in San Diego, and I don’t think they bothered to actually film down here. There’s some more unrealistic sequences of a hungry T-Rex “downtown” chasing trolleys, flinging cars, snacking on unfortunate people, and running after Tokyo businessmen (okay, the Godzilla nod was cute).

The climax scene, where the industrialist is used as a hunting lesson for the T-Rex Baby is…icky in its implications. I may not have liked the man, but no one deserves to be hobbled and eaten alive. It’s one of the things I don’t like about the Jurassic films: the deaths that people cheer at are just gristly. The assistant in Jurassic World 1 does NOTHING to deserve that horrific Ptherodont/Mosasaurus duo nightmare.  Did she have a villain scene left on the cutting room floor?

And Toby is split into two pieces in Lost World, while being a selfless hero. I guess I’m supposed to find it funny in Jurassic Park Classic when the “bloodsucking lawyer” gets chomped on the loo, but seriously, that’s some awful sh!t happening (no pun intended). I don’t know why that’s played for laughs.

I get it, people die when man meets beast. But I don’t feel good laughing about it. These films walk a thin line at times. But there I am again, talking about things I didn’t like. These movies are intended as a way to eat your popcorn and disengage the brain. These are movies where scientists are the heroes, and I very much appreciate that.

The things that are great: when the movies remember these creatures are animals, not monsters. When we feel the magic of our youth stirred by seeing “real” dinosaurs, and interacting peaceably with them. When John William’s stirring score carries us along, and we are reminded there are wondrous things ahead of us. I hope we might be wise enough to see them come to pass. I hope we will be ready, because, as we know…life finds a way. 

———-

Note: I’m definitely impressed with how John Williams manages to recall the beauty of the first film in his soundtrack, while also setting The Lost World apart with the fanfare of an almost military theme. It doesn’t have the softly nostalgic notes of the first film, but it stirs the soul nevertheless. The man is a national treasure. Get the movie and soundtrack here: 

Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World 1 are playing for FREE at San Diego’s Dino-themed craft beverage Bronto Brew Meadery. Come for two more free nights of giant screen movies, under T-Rex skeletons and beside a giant nest of Brontosaurus eggs. FREE events! Friday and Saturday nights, June 22 and 23, on 9235 Trade Place, D, San Diego, CA 92126 (619) 796 – 3096

Jill Florio

Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)